Last week saw some the brightest talent within the LGBTQ community ascend on Liverpool for the annual Gay Times Honours.
MNEK, Albert Kennedy Trust, Liv Little, Shahmir Sanni and Diversity Role Models were among the winners on the night, at a ceremony hosted by Mary Mac at the Walker Art Gallery.
Each of the 13 Honourees have been celebrated with a unique portrait by Ed Firth, which now forms an exhibition at the gallery for the next two weeks.
Sir Ian McKellen, Suki Sandhu and INvolve, Lou Englefield, Harry Styles, Travis Alabanza, Phil Samba, Eivind Hansen, and The Michael Causer Foundation were all also honoured on the evening.
Image: Jamie Windust, Travis Alabanza, Liv Little
Image: Joff Powell, Gemma Oaten, Dr Ranj
Image: Gay Times Honours 2018 artist Ed Firth
“Music is my first love and I’ve been doing this since I was 14. Through that I’ve had my own experience initially, but it took me to get to this point now to go through things, go through break-ups, go through relationships, and go through stuff with other people, and obviously most important this album,” MNEK said during his acceptance speech, collecting the Gay Times Honour for Music.
“For myself being a queer artist of colour, I’ve always wanted to be the representation that I wish I had growing up listening to music and someone who I aspired to be. I’m very thankful that who I am is acceptable.”
Image: MNEK accepts his Gay Times Honour
Image: Travis Alabanza accepts their Gay Times Honour
Image: Diversity Role Models take to the stage to collection their Education Honour
Accepting their Gay Times Honour for Future Fighters, Travis Alabanza said: “It means so much to be awarded this. We’ve had a year where trans people have been the brunt of so much violence, with academics against us, and media campaigns, and it feels important to take this honour not for myself but to remember that this community, Stonewall, the riots, wouldn’t have happened without trans people of colour.
“I’m grateful to be recognised for my work, but remember that black trans people are not new – we’ve been here forever.”
Image: Shahmir Sanni
Image: Suki Sandhu – founder of INvolve – accepts his Gay Times Honour
Taking to the stage to collect the Gay Times Honour for Government and Policy, Shahmir Sanni said: “My experience has taught me a lot about the LGBTQ community in the United Kingdom, and that is that we have become complacent, and that as LGBTQ people we have the most powerful tool that no other group or demographic has, and that is the ability to shift and change and lead culture, and [also], in this day and age, politics.
“You see that with the homophobic leader becoming president in Brazil, you see that with the rise of Trumpism, and you see that with Brexit or whatever you want to call it. It is testament to the fact that the people who despise us, who we are, what we are – whether we are black trans women, or whether we are gay Pakistani men – that they are understanding that cultural change is crucial to having political shifts.
Image: An invited LGBTQ audience at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool
Image: British drag queen Mary Mac hosts the Gay Times Honours 2018
“So if we as LGBTQ people really want to start making those changes, then we need to understand that our very existence is political, and that we shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed or beat around the bush when it comes to our politics, because we are politics.
“So I would say to the LGBTQ community within the United Kingdom: Please wake up. We are so privileged, and we need to start taking into account that we are the ones who can change the political narrative being pushed in this day and age.”
The Gay Times Honours recognise those who have had a tremendous impact on what it means for us to live openly and freely as LGBTQ people in modern Britain.
Image: Eivind Hansen with his Gay Times Honour and unique portrait by Ed Firth
Image: MNEK with his unique portrait by Ed Firth
Image: Phil Samba with his Gay Times Honour and unique portrait by Ed Firth
Sir Ian McKellen was announced as the winner of the Gay Times Honour for Lifetime Achievement, paying tribute to his decades-long dedication to LGBTQ visibility in the arts, as well as his continued commitment to LGBTQ activism on a global level.
“When I finally made it out of my half-open closet 30 years ago, Gay Times generously put me on its front cover,” Sir Ian said of his win. “That’s when it really hit me that I’d joined the human race, confident at last to be myself, whatever anyone else thought of me and my kind. I’m very happy to get this honour.”
Gay Times Honours 2018 was hosted by Mary Mac to an invited LGBTQ audience, including Strictly Come Dancing’s Dr Ranj Singh, UK Black Pride co-founder Lady Phyll, and many organisations who support the community.
Image: Lou Englefield with her Gay Times Honour and unique portrait by Ed Firth
Image: Liv Little with her Gay Times Honour and unique portrait by Ed Firth
Image: Suki Sandhu with his Gay Times Honour and unique portrait by Ed Firth
Arup – the engineering and design company – is one of our major sponsors, reaffirming their commitment to the LGBTQ community.
They are joined by banking and asset management group Investec, apprenticeship and pre-employment course providers Training Strategies, and furniture and home decoration company dwell as key supporters of Gay Times Honours 2018.
Image: UK Black Pride co-founder Lady Phyll arrives at Gay Times Honours 2018
Image: Gaysians’ Reeta Loi and Char Bailey arrive at Gay Times Honours 2018
Image: Our hostess with the mostest, Mary Mac, raises a glass to Gay Times Honours 2018
Image: Danny Beard arrives at Gay Times Honours 2018
Image: Betsy arrives at Gay Times Honours 2018
Virgin Trains is our official travel partner, who rolled out the red carpet at London Euston for a very special Gay Times Honours Express service to Liverpool.
Barclays are our banking partner, following their support for Liverpool Pride earlier this year.
Image: The Michael Causer Foundation arrive at Gay Times Honours to collect their Special Recognition Honour
Images: Albert Kennedy Trust arrive at Gay Times Honour to collect their Community Champions Honour
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson backed the Gay Times Honours, reaffirming their city’s support for the LGBTQ community. What’s more, the event has also been supported by Knowsley Council.
Leading hotelier Signature Living Group is our hospitality partner and hosted the official Gay Times Honours afterparty at The Cunard Building – a Grade II listed building located at the Pier Head at world-famous Albert Dock UNESCO World Heritage site.